Some local stocks fall on hard times
Maui Land & Pineapple Co. is not a get-rich stock. At least not now anyway.
The company is going through a major transition in its pineapple, resort and community development segments and it does not expect the turnaround to be complete for another year.
But investors apparently like what MLP is doing.
MLP's shares rose 11.4 percent to $37.80 during the first six months of 2006 to post the best performance among Hawaii stocks during the period. The company, whose shares fell 13.6 percent in 2005, was one of only four Hawaii companies to show a gain at the midyear point of this year.
"Our stock is no stock for an inpatient investor because it's a company undergoing a turnaround and it's not a quarter-to-quarter earnings story," said David Cole, chairman, president and chief executive of MLP.
"It's a company undergoing a fundamental turnaround in all three business segments."
MLP's agricultural unit has been a money loser for years with its pineapple operations. However, the company has shifted its focus to specialty premium fruit markets from commodity-style markets and from processed pineapple to fresh pineapple. It's also moved from selling the pineapple wholesale through brokers to direct accounts and is improving its facilities.
In its resort division, MLP is upgrading its properties by replacing the Kapalua Bay Hotel with a mix of hotel rooms, time-share units and condominiums. It also is refurbishing Kapalua Villas to move the properties into a luxury format.
And in its real estate development segment, MLP is taking a broader, more community-oriented approach.
"All three segments are more or less on plan," Cole said.
Other local stocks that fared well last year have swung downward this year.
Barnwell Industries Inc., Alexander & Baldwin Inc. and Hoku Scientific Inc., the top three local stocks last year, all stumbled out of the gate in the first six months. Barnwell, an oil, gas and real estate company that had seen its stock double in each of the last two years, was down 4.5 percent to $23.98 at midyear. A&B was off 18.4 percent to $44.27 because of increased competition for ocean shipper Matson Navigation Co., the startup of Matson's new Guam-China service, rising fuel prices and a slowdown in the real estate market. And fuel-cell technology maker Hoku fell upon hard times -- off 59.4 percent to $3.08 -- after it announced it was expanding into solar energy and planning to build a $250 million facility in Singapore.
Besides MLP, other local stocks that posted gains were Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., up 7.8 percent to $27.91; Central Pacific Financial Corp., ahead 7.7 percent to $38.70; and Cyanotech Corp., also up 7.7 percent to 70 cents. HEI, which has benefited from the 3.3 percent interim rate increase it was granted last year by the state Public Utilities Commission, offers the highest dividend yield of any local company, at 4.5 percent, and had a total return of 10.3 percent. Central Pacific, helped by its mainland lending operations, hit an all-time high on June 9 at $39.55. Cyanotech, facing delisting from the Nasdaq SmallCap Market for being under $1, has settled in between 60 cents and 70 cents a share.
Bank of Hawaii Corp., despite receiving a boost from its loan-origination volume and deposits, slipped 3.8 percent to $49.60; ML Macadamia Orchards LP, which has been diversifying its macadamia nut processing contracts, lost 6.2 percent to $5.44; and Hawaiian Holdings Inc., parent of Hawaiian Airlines, nose-dived 14.8 percent to $3.40 amid rising fuel costs and the entrance of Mesa Air Group Inc.'s new interisland airline go!.
Mera Pharmaceuticals Inc., the lowest-priced stock in the index, hit an all-time low of one-half cent during the quarter before ending midyear at 0.9 cent.
Of the major indexes, the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index both hung on to gains, rising 4 percent and 1.8 percent respectively, while the Nasdaq composite index slipped 1.5 percent.
The American Stock Exchange composite index had the best gain, up 9.6 percent, followed by the Russell 2000 index, which is composed of smaller companies and rose 7.6 percent. The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 5.4 percent and the Bloomberg Honolulu Star-Bulletin index tumbled 21 percent.